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3.03.11 Gaddafi strikes back, bombs Brega

March 3 - Libyan warplanes struck the oil port of Brega on Thursday, a day after armed rebels foiled an attempt by loyalists of leader Muammar Gaddafi to retake control of the strategic installation in the rebel-held eastern half of the country. Witnesses could not immediately identify the target of the airstrike. But it was likely an airstrip that belongs to the huge oil complex on the Mediterranean coast. The attack on Brega, some 460 miles (740 kilometers) east of Gaddafi's stronghold in the capital Tripoli, marked the regime's first counteroffensive in the rebel-held east. It illustrated the deep difficulties the Libyan leader's armed forces — an array of militiamen, mercenaries and military units — have had in rolling back the uprising that has swept over the entire eastern half of Libya since Feb. 15. [More>>indianexpress.com; See related stories,

khaleejtimes.com, March 3, "Gaddafi bombs oil areas, faces crimes probe"
 : AL-UQAYLA, Libya - Muammar Gaddafi struck at rebel control of a key Libyan coastal road for a second day on Thursday but received a warning he would be held to account at The Hague for suspected crimes by his security forces. Arab states weighed a plan to end the turmoil in the world's 12th largest oil exporting nation, but a leader of the uprising against Gaddafi's 41-year-old rule said he would reject any proposal for talks with Gaddafi to end the conflict. In Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said France and Britain would support the idea of setting up a no-fly zone over Libya if Gaddafi's forces continued to attack civilians. The uprising, the bloodiest yet against long-serving rulers in the Middle East and North Africa, has torn through the OPEC-member country and knocked out nearly 50 percent of its 1.6 million barrels per day output, the bedrock of Libya's economy...

jpost.com, March 3, "Libya government accepts Chavez plan for solution to conflict" :
The Libyan government has accepted a plan by Venezuela to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict in the North African country, a spokesman for President Hugo Chavez said on Thursday. Information Minister Andres Izarra also confirmed the Arab League had shown interest in the Chavez plan to send an international commission to talk with both sides in Libya...

guardian.co.uk, March 3, "Libyan rebels reject Hugo Chávez mediation offer" : Libya's rebel leaders have ruled out any attempt by Hugo Chávez to broker a truce between them and Muammar Gaddafi, whom they insist must leave the country. "No one has told us a thing about it and we are not interested anyway," said the spokesman of the national committee in Benghazi, Abdul Hafif Goga. "We will never negotiate with him."...

france24.com (AFP) March 3, "ICC to probe Libya's Gaddafi for crimes against humanity" : World court prosecutors launched a probe Thursday into Moamer Kadhafi, his sons and key aides for crimes against humanity arising from a bloody crackdown on Libya's popular revolt. A day after the embattled Libyan leader warned that "thousands" would die if the West launched a military intervention in Libya, International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo warned Kadhafi's inner circle they would be held to account for acts committed by "their people." "The office of the prosecutor decided to open an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed in Libya," Moreno-Ocampo said in The Hague, citing information that "peaceful demonstrators were attacked by security forces." "We have identified some individuals... who had authority over the security forces who allegedly committed the crimes. They are Moamer Kadhafi, his inner circle, including some of this sons," the prosecutor told journalists...

3.03.11 Food prices hit new record highs, says UN food agency

March 3 - Global food prices have hit record highs, and could rise even further, according to the United Nations. The UN's Food Price Index rose 2.2% in February to the highest level since the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) began monitoring prices in 1990. It also warned that spikes in the oil price could make the "already precarious" situation in the food market even worse. Apart from sugar, the FAO said all commodity groups had risen in price. Oil prices recently hit two-and-a-half year highs due to political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

3.03.11 Frankfurt airport shooter shouted 'Allahu akhbar' before opening fire

March 3 - Witnesses heard 21-year-old Arif Uka make the cry "God is the greatest" in English as he launched Wednesday's attack on a busload of US military personnel, increasing the likelihood that it was motivated by radical Islamist beliefs. "The suspect is accused of killing two US military personnel and seriously injuring two others," said federal prosecutors, who handle terrorism cases, in a statement. "Given the circumstances, there is a suspicion that the act was motivated by Islamism." [More>>telegraph.co.uk]

3.03.11 Suicide bomber kills nine in Pakistan

(Reuters) March 3 - A suicide bomber set off explosives in a vehicle at a security checkpoint in the northwest Pakistani town of Hangu today, killing at least nine people, officials said. Pakistan has seen a wave of suicide attacks in the past three years, many in northwestern regions along the Afghan border where the Pakistan military is battling Taliban insurgents. "Four policemen are among the dead ... it also killed five people in cars driving past," police official Gul Jamal told Reuters. Seven women and four children were among 30 wounded. The bomber used about 600 kg of explosives. The blast destroyed three vehicles and severely damaged seven houses, a bomb disposal official said. [More>>independent.co.uk; See related story, washingtonpost.com, March 3, Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's sole Christian minister, is assassinated in Islamabad."]

3.03.11 Deadly blast hits Iraq bank

March 3 - At least nine killed in suicide attack that targeted people queueing up to collect salaries in city of Haditha. At least nine people are reported killed in a suicide attack in the Iraqi city of Haditha. Thirteen people were also injured in the bomb blast at a branch of the state-owned Rafidain bank on Thursday, medical and security sources told the Reuters news agency. The bombing happened as people were queueing to collect their salaries, said police officer Ali al-Ubaidi. "There was a group of Iraqi army soldiers standing in front of the bank to collect their salaries when a suicide bomber wearing a vest came in between them and blew himself up," he said.  At least six of the dead were soldiers, Reuters reported. Waleed al-Hadithi, manager of the general hospital in Haditha, said he expected the death toll to rise.  Haditha is 190km northwest of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. [>aljazeera.net]

3.03.11 South Sulawesi outlaws Ahmadiyah

JAKARTA, Indonesia, March 3 - Following in the footsteps of East and West Java, South Sulawesi Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo issued on Thursday a ban on the Ahmadiyah sect from practicing their religion publicly. Syahrul said that the sect was neither registered as a mass organization nor a religious organization in the administration. "For that reason, I don't think it should be a problem should the administration prohibit its activities here. We also won't give them a permit to [to practice their religion publicly]," said Syahrul as quoted by tribunnews.com on Thursday. He said he had issued a circular to ban all activities of the Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation (JAI) in the province, referring to a joint ministerial decree from the government that bans members of JAI from propagating their religious teachings, but allows them to maintain their faith and perform their daily religious duties. Earlier on Thursday, West Java Governor Ahmad Heriyawan also issued a similar decree, telling Ahmadis to stop performing their activities in the province. [>thejakartapost.com]

3.01.11 Libya clashes leave 6,500 dead

BENGHAZI, March 1 - Clashes continue as forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi fight to regain control over areas taken over by protesters. The final figure of those killed in the ongoing clashes between forces loyal to the Gaddafi regime and pro-democracy protesters is 6,500, Gulf News has learned. An informed source has told Gulf News that according to the Libyan interim government, the latest death toll in the clashes in country stands at 6,500. Meanwhile, clashes continued across Libya on Tuesday as forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi fought to regain control over areas taken over by protesters. Witnesses from around 25km south of the capital Tripoli said tanks and anti-aircraft crews were deployed at all major intersections, activists reported in messages posted online. Clashes continued in the western part of the country, as security forces tried to regain control of Zawiyah city. The violence came one day after residents of Libya's third largest city, Misrata, said they had shot down an aircraft that was flying over the city. Other witnesses said it was a helicopter and its crew were captured by anti-government protesters. [>gulfnews.com; See related story,

khaleejtimes.com, March 1, "West edges closer to military action on Libya"
: TRIPOLI - The West edged closer on Tuesday to military action against Muammar Gaddafi as the United States said air strikes would be needed to secure a no-fly zone over Libya, and regime forces tried to retake a key city. US and European leaders weighed the use of NATO air power to impose a no-fly zone, with the aim of stopping Gaddafi using air power against his own people to crush the insurrection against his four decades of iron rule. Meanwhile, Gaddafi loyalists, who have lost control of much of the country to the rebellion that started on February 15, tried to retake the key western city of Zawiyah but were pushed back. Gaddafi's army also moved to re-establish its authority at a border post with Tunisia, to the west, days after leaving the area, witnesses said after returning from the border...

3.01.11 Pakistan government told to block anti-Islamic websites

LAHORE, Pakistan, March 1 - With Facebook and several other websites allegedly featuring blasphemous material against Prophet Mohammed and the Quran, the Pakistan government has informed a court here that all required steps are being taken to block objectionable and anti-Islamic portals. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Information Technology Ministry are blocking all internet websites that feature blasphemous material, Deputy Attorney General Naveed Inayat Malik told the Lahore High Court yesterday. After Malik gave this assurance on behalf of the federal government, Chief Justice Ijaz Chaudhry disposed of petitions seeking a ban on Facebook and several other websites. An inter-ministerial committee is screening websites to block access to blasphemous and anti-Islamic material, Malik said. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

3.01.11 Girls college attacked in northwest Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, March 1 - Suspected militants lobbed grenades at a girls' college in northwest Pakistan, injuring 19 girls, police said. Two men riding a motorcycle hurled grenades at the college at Gulimera in Mardan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province this afternoon. A function was underway at the college at the time of the attack. District police chief Waqif Khan said 19 girls were injured. He described the condition of nine of the injured as critical but dismissed reports that some persons were killed in the attack. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban militants, who consider the education of girls as "un-Islamic," have attacked scores of girls' educational institutions in northwest Pakistan over the past few years. [>indianexpress.com]

3.01.11 Men given death sentences for Indian train fire

March 1 - An Indian court has sentenced 11 men to death after finding them guilty of setting a train on fire nine years ago, killing 60 Hindu nationalists and triggering one of India's worst outbursts of religious violence in recent years. Judge P R Patel last week convicted 31 Muslim men of being part of a criminal conspiracy that led to the deaths of 60 people when a Sabarmati Express train coach packed with Hindu pilgrims was set on fire by a Muslim mob in Godhra, western Gujarat, in 2002. The court on Tuesday sentenced the other 20 people convicted in the case to life imprisonment, prosecutor J M Panchal said. Those convicted have 90 days to appeal against their sentence. About 1,000 people were killed after the fire, when groups of Hindus rampaged through Muslim neighborhoods and towns in Gujarat from February to April 2002. Most of the dead were Muslims. The religious violence was among India's worst since its independence from Britain in 1947. The state government, which has been controlled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party, has been accused by the opposition and media of not doing enough to stop the violence and of even stoking it. Gujarat officials deny the claim. [>guardian.co.uk]

3.01.11 Iran forces fire teargas, clash with protesters

TEHRAN (Reuters) March 1 - Iran's security forces fired teargas and clashed with opposition supporters in Tehran on Tuesday, where demonstrators were rallying to demand the release of two opposition leaders, according to an opposition website. "Security forces and people in civilian clothes clashed with demonstrators in Tehran to disperse them," opposition website Kaleme reported. Sahamnews, another opposition website, reported large numbers of security personnel stationed at main streets and squares in Tehran "to prevent gathering of opposition supporters." Former presidential candidates Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi have not been seen in public since they called for a rally on Feb. 14, during which thousands of their supporters took to the streets to support uprisings in the Arab world. [More>>thestar.com.my]

3.01.11 Egypt seizes Mubarak family funds

CAIRO, March 1 - Egypt's top prosecutor seized all the funds of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak and his family on Monday and banned them from travel abroad, the latest humiliation for the once-powerful family. It comes a day after authorities prevented Mubarak's wife and son from flying out of the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. During the 18-day pro-democracy uprising, unconfirmed reports that Mubarak and his family might have amassed billions, or even tens of billions of dollars over their three decades in power, fueled protesters already enraged over massive corruption and poverty in Egypt. Mubarak, the top ruling party leaders and other cronies, as well as the powerful military have all profited richly from the corrupt system. Mubarak was forced out of the president's office on Feb. 11 by military leaders, who have promised to meet many of the protesters’ demands. He is now believed to be living in seclusion with his family in Sharm el-Sheikh. The attorney general had already frozen the assets of the ousted president, his wife, two sons and their wives on Feb. 20. [More>>japantoday.com]

3.01.11 Diggers capture Afghan insurgent leader

MARCH 1 - Australian and Afghan troops have captured an insurgent commander who led a contingent planting deadly improvised bombs in part of Uruzgan province. The unnamed Taliban leader was detained during a combined operation involving the Australian troops and Afghan National Security Forces in mid-February, but news of the operation did not emerge until today in a posting on the Department of Defence's website. Defence said intelligence provided by the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) allowed Australian and Afghan troops to intercept those attending an insurgent shura (meeting). Afghan National Security Forces and soldiers of the Australian Mentoring Task Force conducted a cordon and search operation in the area linking the Baluchi and Chora Valleys. Defence said they detained a number of persons of interest. SOTG soldiers transferred the detainees to the Australian detention facility at the main base at Tarin Kowt. [>news.com.au]

3.01.11 Saudi Arabia sends tanks to Bahrain: report

CAIRO, March 1 - Saudi Arabia has sent some 30 tanks for Bahrain which were sighted late Monday along the King Fahd causeway linking the two countries, witnesses say, Egyptian newspaper reported. Pro-democracy protests in Bahrain have shown no sign of decline after almost two weeks. The protesters are demanding the resignation of the government, constitutional reforms and the king's abdication. Witnesses said that the causeway was blocked as "15 tank carriers carrying two tanks each were heading towards Bahrain," Egypt's al-Masry al-Youm daily reported in its latest edition. Given the popular protests in the Persian Gulf kingdom, the transfer of the military hardware from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain seems highly unusual, commuters traveling along the 25-km causeway said. The development follows a decision by the Bahraini military on Saturday to withdraw their vehicles out of the capital's Pearl Square after a deadly police attack on protesters, a condition the opposition had set to begin talks. Massive protests in Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet in the region, have shown no sign of a decline after almost two weeks. [>thenews.com.pk]

3.01.11 Thousands take to Yemen's streets for new 'Day of Rage'

(AFP) March 1 - Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to Yemen's streets on Tuesday, dedicating a new "Day of Rage" to the people killed in protests in recent months and calling for an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's three-decade rule. Huge crowds poured onto the streets of the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Tuesday in what the opposition hailed as the biggest protest yet against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's three-decade rule. The veteran leader, whose supporters staged a large counter-demonstration, dismissed the opposition rally as a copycat action mimicking protests in other Arab countries that he charged had been fanned by Israel and the United States. He then sacked the governors of five provinces where anti-regime protests have been raging, mostly in the regions that made former South Yemen. An official announcement said Saleh has removed the governors of Aden, Lahij and Abyan in the south, as well as Hadramut in the southeast and Hudayda in the west. Saleh's opponents massed from early morning in streets leading to a square near Sanaa University, where students and pro-democracy demonstrators have been camped for more than a week. "The people want Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave," the protesters chanted. "The people want to overthrow the regime." [More>>france24.com; See related story,

nytimes.com, March 1, "Powerful cleric urges Islamic rule in Yemen"
: SANA - As thousands of demonstrators for and against President Ali Abdullah Saleh took to the streets on Tuesday, a cleric who is a former mentor of Osama bin Laden joined them to call for the replacement of the government with an Islamic state. The cleric, Sheik Abdul Majid al-Zindani, has been on the United States Treasury Department's list of “specially designated global terrorists” since 2004, suspected of fund-raising for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. His call was a marked contrast to the message of the rebellions that brought down the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and now threaten the rulers of Libya, Bahrain, Oman and, to this point, Yemen, where uprisings have been seen as secular and inspired by democratic goals. In the past, he has publicly opposed terrorism, if not jihad, or holy war, and his word as a spiritual leader carries considerable political and moral weight in Yemen. Mr. Zindani's appearance coincided with an unusual display of anti-American sentiment by Mr. Saleh, who accused Washington and Israel of fomenting unrest to destabilize the Arab world — an accusation that seemed more remarkable because the United States has been Mr. Saleh's most powerful Western backer during his three decades in power...

3.01.11 Danish sailboat 'seized by pirates'

March 1- A pirate in Somalia is warning that the Danish hostages, captured in the Indian Ocean, will be killed if any rescue attempt is made, the Associated Press reported. The Danish family of five and two crew members, were taken hostage when their sailboat was seized by pirates. Danish naval command received a distress signal from the vessel on February 24, the country's foreign ministry said on Tuesday. "It can now be confirmed that the sailboat has been hijacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean," the ministry said. Meanwhile, the AP spoke to Abdullahi Mohamed, who reportedly has ties with the gang holding the Danish family. Mohamed told the AP on Tuesday that any attack against the pirates would result in the deaths of the hostages. He referred to the killings last week of four American hostages taken captive by pirates on their yacht. Mohamed "has provided reliable information to AP in the past," the news agency said. The Danish ministry confirmed that the family ― parents and their three children aged 12-16 ― and two Danish crew members were aboard when the vessel was seized. [More>>aljazeera.net]

2.27.11 US President Barack Obama's ultimatum to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi: Time to go

February 27 - More than 100,1000 foreigners have fled. Terror in Libya as Gaddafi told to quit. The net is closing on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as US President Barack Obama urges him to step down now amid growing fears a civil war is about to break out. World leaders called on Muammar Gaddafi to step down as Libyan protesters appeared to take control of the city closest to Tripoli yesterday, threatening an endgame to his four-decade rule. The chaos engulfing the oil-rich North African state of 6.3 million has fanned fears that his hold on power could descend into civil war, and the United Nations has confirmed that nearly 100,000 people have streamed out of the country.

The UN Security Council imposed a travel and assets ban on Gaddafi's regime and ordered an investigation into possible crimes against humanity by the Libyan leader, the first time any such decision has been made unanimously. A key defector was forming a transitional government to replace Gaddafi's crumbling regime, which now controls only western areas around the capital and a few longtime bastions in the arid south, reporters and witnesses say. Regime opponents appeared to control the city of Az-Zawiyah, just 50km west of Tripoli, where thousands took to the streets to denounce the teetering leader in front of journalists on a guided visit. Az-Zawiyah is the site of the country's largest oil refinery and a middle-class satellite town on the Mediterranean that is home to a number of pro-Gaddafi military officers.
[More>>news.com.au; See related stories,

washingtonpost.com, February 27, "Rebel army may be formed as Tripolit fails to oust Gaddafi" : BENGHAZI, LIBYA - Col. Moammar Gaddafi faced fresh setbacks domestically and internationally early Sunday with opposition forces in eastern Libya preparing to dispatch a rebel force to his stronghold in Tripoli and the United Nation's imposing military and financial sanctions while raising the specter that the isolated leader could face charges for crimes against humanity. Even as the opposition consolidated its grip on the country's second city, Benghazi, a top anti-Gaddafi leader, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Gatrani, said a small force comprising army defectors and rebels has already reached the outskirts of the capital. An attempt to oust Gaddafi in Tripoli on Friday was crushed by pro-regime paramilitaries and soldiers firing indiscriminately at protesters on the streets. It happened as the wave of civil revolts of recent weeks continued to convulse the Middle East, with even Tunisia and Egypt, two nations where protesters succeeded in ousting longtime authoritarian rulers, seeing heated protests on Saturday that led to violent military crackdowns. In Oman on Sunday, two people were killed in protests, Reuters reported, as police fired tear gas and cordoned off protesters demonstrating for a second day in the city of Sohar...

news.sky.com, February 27, " 'Men found buried alive' at Gaddafi compound." Sky News has uncovered disturbing new evidence of the barbarity of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya east, where the opposition movement has seized control. Libyan revolutionaries in Benghazi claim to have rescued seven prisoners that had been buried alive. They say the group was found entombed in a small underground cell in the city's dreaded government compound ― forbidden territory for 40 years, now overrun by the forces of revolution. The rescuers said they heard voices underground and dug through earth and freshly laid concrete to discover the seven men, some of whom were barely alive. Sky News was taken to the small underground chamber lined with breeze blocks and topped with new cement. There seems to have been no way in or out.

Their rescuers said some of the seven were anti-Gaddafi protesters and others were soldiers who had rebelled against the dictator. They were now being treated in hospital. The ground underneath the compound is yielding more dark secrets in a labyrinth of bunkers, prisons and armories. This was Gaddafi's subterranean stronghold in the east of Libya. Its tunnels appear to have been stacked high with every kind of weapon. Every box has been ripped open and ransacked by revolutionaries. Among the debris we found labels for anti-tank jet-propelled missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. Rack after rack of rifle stands have been stripped of their arms. The tunnels are big enough to drive armored vehicles through...

bbc.com.uk, February 27, "Libya unrest sparks refugee crisis at Tunisia border"
: Libya's border with Tunisia is being overrun with migrants, many of them from Egypt, fleeing turmoil in Libya, aid workers say. A UN refugee official told the BBC that 20,000 Egyptians were stranded and needed food and shelter. Many are sleeping in the open despite the cold. Some Egyptian refugees staged protests shouting: "We want to go home." About 100,000 people have fled anti-government unrest in Libya over the past week, the UN estimates. The BBC's Jim Muir at the Ras Jdir border crossing with Tunisia says the exodus of Egyptian workers from western Libya began on Wednesday, but has been intensifying daily since then...

alarabiya.net, February 27, "Azhar imam urges Libyans to disobey Gaddafi" :
Libyan leader sheds his people's blood: Tayeb. DUBAI - The Grand Imam of al-Azhar, the world's leading institution of Sunni Islam, issued a statement Saturday calling upon all Libyans to disobey their leader Muammar Gaddafi. Sheikh Mohamed al-Tayeb condemned in a strongly-worded statement the extreme violence with which Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been dealing with his people since the protests that demand the ouster of his regime started on February 17. "Gaddafi has now become a tyrannical ruler who wages war on his own people," said the statement. "That is why I ask the Libyan army and officials to refrain from obeying his orders or else they will be accomplices in shedding the blood of Libyans." In the statement circulated by several Egyptian and Arab media outlets, Tayeb added that he has been following the latest events in Libya with "a heart laden with pain."...

2.27.11 Deaths in Oman protests

February 27 - At least two people killed in industrial town of Sohar as police clash with anti-government demonstrators. At least two people have been killed in an industrial town in the northeast of Oman, after police fired rubber-coated bullets at anti-government protesters. The military moved in to secure an area in the town of Sohar on Sunday where about 2,000 demonstrators had gathered for a second day to demand political reforms, according to witnesses reported by the Reuters news agency. "Two were killed after being shot with rubber bullets as protesters attempted to storm a police station," a security official said, requesting anonymity. State news agency ONA confirmed that there had been casualties in Sohar, saying that police and anti-riot forces had clashed with demonstrators. "Police and anti-riot squads confronted this group of wreckers in a bid to protect people and their properties, which caused casualties," it said. [More>>aljazeera.net]

2.27.11 US accuses Iran of 'blatant' rights violations

WASHINGTON (Reuters) February 27 - US condemns Iranian arrests of political figures, Internet meddling; 2 Iranian officials get US sanctions over human rights abuses. The United States on Sunday accused Iran's government of hypocrisy and "blatant" violations of the rights of its citizens. "The United States strongly condemns the Iranian government's organized intimidation campaign and arrests of political figures, human rights defenders, political activists, student leaders, journalists and bloggers," the White House said in a statement. "The Iranian government also continues to deny its citizens access to information by jamming satellite transmissions and blocking Internet sites," said the statement, which was issued by White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor. The United States slapped financial sanctions on two Iranian officials on Wednesday for what it said were human rights abuses against protesters following Iran's disputed presidential election in 2009. US officials have recently suggested that Iranian authorities were hypocritical for clamping down on protesters in their country while applauding the demonstrations in Egypt that toppled its leader, Hosni Mubarak, a longtime US ally. [More>>jpost.com]

2.27.11 115 die in government offensive on Somali militants

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) February 27 - A government offensive against al-Qaeda-linked militants largely subsided Sunday as officials said that at least 115 people had been killed since the violence started several days ago. Ali Muse, the chief of the Mogadishu ambulance service, said that 49 civilians had died and 157 had been wounded since the government launched the operation Wednesday. In addition, at least 60 militants have been killed along with six peacekeepers, according to Biyereke Floribert, a spokesman for the Burundian peacekeepers who are serving in the African Union force backing the Somali government. Muse said heavy fighting had subsided but sporadic gunfire still could be heard. The militants were regrouping to plan retaliatory attacks but "we are ready for them," Floribert said. [More>>foxnews.com]

2.25.11 130 soldiers executed in Libya

PARIS (AFP) February 25 - At least 640 people have been killed in Libya in protests against the regime of Moamer Gaddafi since they started last week, the International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR) said. The figure is more than double the official Libyan government toll of 300 dead, and includes 275 dead in Tripoli and 230 dead in the protest epicenter in the eastern city of Benghazi, the IFHR's Souhayr Belhassen said. The Benghazi toll includes "130 soldiers who were executed by their officers in Benghazi for refusing to fire on crowds" of protesters, she said. Belhassen, who heads the Paris-based IFHR, said the toll was based on military sources for Tripoli and on Libyan rights groups assessments in Benghazi and elsewhere. The Libyan government said on Tuesday that 300 people had died in the protests, including 111 soldiers. [>thenews.com.pk]

2.25.11 Gaddafi vows to open arsenals to arm his supporters

TRIPOLI, Libya, February 25 - Says people who don't love Gaddafi do not deserve to live. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Friday vowed defiantly to triumph over his enemies, urging his supporters in Tripoli's Green Square to protect Libya and its petroleum interests. He told supporters he would open arsenals "when necessary" to arm the Libyan people against the "enemy." "We can crush any enemy. We can crush it with the people's will. The people are armed and when necessary, we will open arsenals to arm all the Libyan people and all Libyan tribes." This was Gaddafi's third statement this week. He previously called on his followers to crush the rebellion against him that began last week and later said al-Qaeda was behind what he called "drug crazed mobs" of youth trying to unseat him. [More>>alarabiya.net]

2.25.11 Friday protests grip Middle East

February 25 - Opposing political camps rally in Yemen while protesters vent anger after prayers in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Bahrain. Tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh have held rival rallies in the capital, Sanaa.  Protesters outside Sanaa University repeated slogans demanding that the country's longtime president step down, chanting: "The people demand the downfall of the regime." About 4 km away loyalists shouted support for the president, who they described as holding the fractured and impoverished tribal country together. "The creator of unity is in our hearts. We will not abandon him," they chanted. Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Sanaa on Friday, said the situation is calm there due to the huge presence of police and military deployed to prevent any clashes between government supporters and pro-democracy protesters.

"However, the situation in Aden [in the south] is very tense, we know that at least 15 pro-democracy protesters were injured in clashes with security forces [today]," he said. "Security forces have been asked by the ministry of the interior to block the main square to put an end to the escalations there, as it is the stronghold of the secessionist movement who want to break away from the north. There have been huge rallies in the province of Sadah, the stronghold of the Houthi fighters. They have said they are joining the protesters and that their fight will be similar to the fight of thousands of protesters who are asking for an end to the political regime."

...On Friday, several thousand people demonstrated in the centre of the Jordanian capital, Amman, in a "Day of Anger" to call for political reforms. Jordan deployed more than 3,000 security personnel across central Amman, but police reportedly stayed on the sidelines and even gave bottles of water and juice to the protesters...In Bahrain, protesters thronged the capital, Manama, to demand the end of the ruling Sunni government. Tens of thousands of protesters headed for Pearl roundabout, the epicenter of daily demonstrations since February 14, chanting: "The people want to topple the regime!"
[Full story>>aljazeera.net]

2.25.11 Iraqi forces kill al-Qaeda 'war minister' in raid

BAGHDAD (AP) February 25 - Iraqi security forces killed the top military leader of an al-Qaeda front group, surrounding his hideout and firing shots that blew up his booby-trapped getaway car, officials said Friday. The slain militant, al-Nasser Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman, was the so-called war minister of the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaeda front group responsible for bombings and suicide attacks across Iraq, said Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, an Iraqi military spokesman. The ISI is an umbrella organization of insurgent groups that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq. It has been seriously weakened since the height of the Iraq war, but is still able to carry out deadly attacks. On Thursday, security forces tracked Suleiman to Anbar province, said the chairman of the provincial council, Jassim al-Halbousi. When troops approached his hideout, Suleiman fled in a vehicle rigged with explosives, al-Halbousi said. Troops opened fire at the car, setting off an explosion that killed Suleiman. Al-Moussawi said Suleiman was killed in Hit, a city 85 miles (140 kilometers) west of Baghdad. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

2.25.11 7 killed on 'Day of Rage' in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AFP) February 25 - Angry protesters hurled stones in Baghdad on Friday as thousands of demonstrators flooded streets across Iraq for a "Day of Rage" that left seven people dead in clashes with police. Around 5,000 demonstrators gathered at Baghdad's Tahrir Square, crowds of them angrily throwing stones, shoes and plastic bottles at riot police and soldiers blocking off Jumhuriyah bridge, an AFP journalist said. Demonstrators overturned two concrete blast walls, which had been erected to seal off access to Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone, home to the US embassy and parliament, the journalist added. Security was deployed in force, imposing a city-wide vehicle ban after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki claimed al-Qaeda insurgents and loyalists of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein organized the demonstrations. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

2.24.11 Global warming apparent in Korea

February 24 - Korea is apparently already under the influence of global warming as flowers are blooming earlier than ever, a state-run institute said Thursday. At the same time Fall leaves are coming later, indicating that the climate here is getting warmer and milder, said Lee Kyeong-mi, staff worker at the National Institute of Meteorological Research. Lee found that the flowering of Japanese apricot plants has come forward 4.1 days in the past decade, which suggests that spring is arriving on the Korean Peninsula increasingly early. The blossoming of forsythia, azalea, cherry blossom, peach tree and pear tree have come forward one day, 1.8 days, 2.1 days, 1.6 days and 2.1 days, respectively, in the cited period. "The blossoming of Japanese apricots, in particular, hadn't shown any change of time until the 1980s. But since the 1980s, it has advanced by 14 days, which is alarming," Lee said. "The rise of temperature ― the monthly increase by 0.54 degrees Celsius in February and 0.39 degrees in March for the past 10 years ― has contributed to the advancement," she said..."The blossoming period of plants is a barometer and indicator of global warming and other climate change factors," Lee said. [Full story>>koreaherald.com]

2.24.11 Quake toll rises to 103

February 24 - The death toll from the Christchurch earthquake climbed past 100 and hundreds more remained missing, officials say. "At the moment we have 102 confirmed fatalities ... the missing persons number that we have is 228," New Zealand's civil defence minister, John Carter, said this morning. Police later put the figure at 103, saying it would rise as more bodies were pulled from the debris of buildings destroyed in Tuesday's 6.3-magnitude earthquake. "There have been no rescues overnight. The body count continues to rise; it now sits at 103," Superintendent Russell Gibson told TVNZ. [>theaustralian.com; See also news.com.au, Febrruary 24, "Live update: 6.3 earthquake rocks Christchurch, New Zealand."]

2.24.11 More than 60 arrested in nationwide Mexican drug gang sweep

WASHINGTON (AP) February 24 - Federal, state and local authorities conducted a massive sweep Thursday of suspected Mexican drug cartel members in the United States in a widespread domestic response to the killing of a US agent in Mexico last week. "We are taking a stand and we are sending a message back to the cartels that we will not tolerate the murder of a US agent, or any US official," said Carl Pike, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's special operations division. Pike said the nationwide roundup, which began Wednesday and was expected to continue into Friday, is targeting suspected criminals with ties to any Mexican drug cartel to try to disrupt drug trafficking operations in the United States. [More>>foxnews.com]

2.24.11 Report: Thousands of migrants kidnapped in Mexico

February 24 - In Mexico, a man who tried to journey illegally into the United States to seek work vows that he will never again leave his home. His trip turned into a nightmare when he was kidnapped along the route, as happens to thousands of migrants crossing through Mexico each year. "What they did to me doesn't matter. But what they did to all those women, that hurts more," he told Mexico's Commission on Human Rights. For 17 days, the man recounts, he was held hostage. There were also 17 women among the group, and "each night they came back sadder, more hurt, beaten. I will never forget what I saw," he said. Each day, between three and five new hostages arrived. There were beatings, and worse. "Those who didn't pay the ransom were taken outside to, as those scumbags said, 'look at the stars from up close,'" the man said.

The journey across Mexico for those seeking to reach the United States is a treacherous one. People hang on to trains, pay shadowy smugglers, and risk kidnappings like the one the man described. The journey across Mexico for those seeking to reach the United States is a treacherous one. People hang on to trains, pay shadowy smugglers, and risk kidnappings like the one the man described. It's unclear whether the man was released or whether he escaped his captors. But his story is hardly unique. In a six-month period in 2010, more than 11,000 migrants were kidnapped, the Mexican human rights commission found in a report published this week.

2.24.11 Indonesia cleric Abu Bakar Bashir tells court that arms training is God's will

February 24 - Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir told a court Thursday that Muslims have a religious duty to take up arms against non-believers, as he offered his first defence against terrorism charges. The cleric who is regarded as a spiritual leader of Islamist militants around the region is accused of leading an al-Qaeda-style militant group that was discovered training recruits in Aceh province last year. Police jostled with about 200 of the frail 72-year-old's radical supporters as he arrived under tight guard amid shouts of "Allahu akbar" (God is greater). Wearing his usual white robes, skull cap and shawl, the preacher smiled and looked calm as he was escorted through the crowd by members of the elite Detachment 88 anti-terror police squad.

"I am convinced that based on Islamic sharia (law), the physical and weapons training in a mountainous area in Aceh was an act of worship by Muslims as ordered by God to deter Muslim enemies," he said, reading from a 90-page defence document. "This exercise is equally as important as prayer, fasting... but this holy task has been insulted by God's enemies, the Detachment 88, by accusing them of being terrorists." Bashir could face the death penalty if convicted of the charges including leading and financing a terrorist group, and supplying illegal weapons. The cleric is an alleged co-founder of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror organization blamed for multiple attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people, mainly Western tourists.

The Islamic teacher, whose former students read like a who's-who of Indonesian extremism, served almost 26 months behind bars for the Bali bombings but his conviction was overturned after his release in 2006. Prosecutors have also unsuccessfully charged him with involvement in church bombings in 2000 and the Marriott hotel attack in Jakarta in 2003. Two years after his release from prison Bashir founded Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid to continue agitating for sharia law and holy war against perceived threats to Muslims everywhere. Police say JAT was a front for a new campaign of terrorism in the world's most populous Muslim-majority state.
[>news.com.au; See related story, Maravot News editorial note 2.18.11, "Many contradictions in the Koran and application of Koran."]

2.24.11 Gaddafi says regrets Libyan deaths, blames bin Laden

CAIRO (Reuters) February 24 - Muammar Gaddafi blamed a revolt against his rule on al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on Thursday and said that as Libyan leader he only had "moral authority." Gaddafi, speaking by telephone to Libyan television, offered his condolences for those who were killed in the bloodshed and called for calm amongst people he said were fighting amongst themselves and taking hallucinogenic drugs. Saying bin Laden was "the real criminal", Gaddafi urged Libyans not be swayed by the al-Qaeda leader. "Bin Laden ... this is the enemy who is manipulating people," Gaddafi said, adding: "Do not be swayed by bin Laden." [More>>thestar.com.my; See related stories,

telegraph.co.uk, February 24, "Gaddafi compares himself to the Queen in latest rant"
: The embattled dictator said he was like the Queen, who he says has not been overthrown for 57 years. "You need to listen to your parents. If people disobey their parents they end up destroying the country," he said. "The same case as in Britain (where) for 57 years the Queen has been ruling. I have been in the same situation. I am not in the same position to be able to impose rule on the people. I have become more of a symbolic leader. I have no power, it's the people themselves who have the prerogative."...

alarabiya.net, February 24, "Battles rage as rebels seize Libyan towns" : BENGHAZI, Libya - Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi launched a counter-attack on Thursday, fighting fierce gun battles with rebels who have threatened the Libyan leader by seizing important towns close to the capital. The grip of Gaddafi on Libya loosened further as major cities and towns closer to the capital fell to the rebellion against his rule. In the east, now all but broken away, the opposition vowed to "liberate" Tripoli, where the Libyan leader is holed up with a force of militiamen roaming the streets and tanks guarding the outskirts. The London Evening Standard reported Thursday that Gaddafi's cousin defected in a major blow to the Libyan leader's regime. As fierce gun battles took place in a key city close to the capital, Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam, one of Gaddafi's closest aides and his foreign affairs spokesman, announced that he was deserting to Egypt in protest against the bloody crackdown on civilians, denouncing what he called "grave violations to human rights and human and international laws." It is the most high level defection to hit the regime so far after several ambassadors...

2.24.11 US arrests Saudi man in bomb plot

WASHINGTON, February 24 - A 20-year-old Saudi student living in Texas has been arrested by federal agents and charged with planning to build bombs to carry out terrorist attacks inside the United States, the Justice Department announced on Thursday. According to an affidavit filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the man, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, indicated in online research and in a journal that he was considering attacking the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, former soldiers stationed at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants, and night clubs. Mr. Aldawsari, a business major at South Plains College in Lubbock, Texas, was legally in the United States legally on a student visa. He came to the government's attention on Feb. 1, when a North Carolina supply company reported that he had tried to order five liters of a chemical that can be used to make an explosive. A subsequent investigation found that he had already obtained large supplies of the other two chemicals needed for the explosive — Tri-Nitro-Phenol or T.N.P — in December, court documents said. [More>.nytimes.com]

2.24.11 Yemen to 'protect protesters'

February 24 - President Saleh instructs security forces to protect demonstrators after at least 15 protesters have been killed. Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, has issued a directive ordering his security forces to protect demonstrators trying to end his 32-year rule, after at least 15 people have been killed in the country's recent unrest. The statement, relayed by the Yemeni press attaché in Washington on Thursday, said Saleh had "demanded security services to offer full protection for the demonstrators."

"Late this evening [Wednesday] ... Saleh instructed all security services to thwart all clashes and prevent direct confrontation between pro- and anti-government protesters," it said. "Furthermore, the government calls on protesters to remain vigilant and take all precautionary steps to prevent the infiltrations of individuals seeking to carry out violent actions. The government ... will continue to protect the rights of its citizens to assemble peacefully and their right to freedom of expression," the statement said. Thousands of protesters were camping out for a fifth day in an impromptu tent city outside Sanaa University. Members of the university's professors' union also turned out to support  the demonstrators, who have one demand: that Saleh step down. Fifteen people have been killed in unrest shaking Yemen since protests began on February 16. Saleh has said he will not give in to what he described as opponents advocating anarchy.

2.24.11 Suicide bomber kills at least 11 in Iraq

(Reuters) February 24 - A suicide bomber blew himself up during a ceremony in a cultural centre in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on Thursday, killing at least 11 people and wounding 18 others. The bomber attacked during a commemoration of Prophet Mohammad's birthday, said Anbar province Deputy Governor Hikmet Khalaf, who was injured in the explosion. "We were in the middle of a ceremony to celebrate the anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's birthday when a male suicide bomber came to the door of the room and said 'God is Greatest' and blew himself up," Khalaf told Reuters. Police Lieutenant Ali al-Dulaimi, who works in the Anbar police media office, and an Interior Ministry source both put the toll from the blast at 11 people dead and 18 others wounded. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

2.24.11 Suicide blast kills 1, hurts 26 in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, February 24 - A suicide car bomb attack killed an intelligence agent and wounded 26 other people in an Afghan town Thursday, officials said, in the latest in a wave of blasts. The explosives-packed vehicle with two bombers inside blew up in Spin Boldak after intelligence agents acting on a tip-off opened fire in a bid to stop it, Lutfullah Mashal, a spokesman for Afghanistan's national spy agency, said. "We had intelligence that it was coming. The car was located, there were two suicide bombers in it. Our officers shot at it and killed one of the bombers after it did not heed their order to stop," he said. "The second bomber was injured and he detonated his suicide vest, also setting off his friend's vest and the bombs in the vehicle."

...In the last three weeks, more than 100 people including many bystanders have died in six large blasts. On Saturday, the country witnessed its worst attack since June when 38 people died in a suicide attack on a bank in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan. Southern Afghanistan is seen as the focal point of the war between the Taliban and international and government forces, which has now been running for nearly 10 years. Earlier this month, 19 people including 15 police and an intelligence agent were killed in a string of attacks focused on police headquarters in Kandahar city claimed by the Taliban. And in January, 17 people including a police officer died in Spin Boldak in a blast at a public bath.
[Full story>>thenews.com.pk]

2.21.11 Libya protests: Gaddafi regime shaken by unrest

February 21 - The BBC's James Robbins looks at the latest video purportedly showing Libyan protests. The 40-year rule of Col. Muammar Gaddafi is under threat amid spiralling unrest throughout Libya. Several senior officials — including the justice minister — have reportedly resigned after security forces fired on protesters in Tripoli overnight. Witnesses say renewed protests have hit two suburbs of the capital. In an earlier TV address, Col. Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam conceded that the eastern cities of al-Bayda and Benghazi were under opposition control. But he warned of civil war and vowed that the regime would "fight to the last bullet." The BBC's Jon Leyne, in neighboring Egypt, says Col. Gaddafi has now lost the support of almost every section of society. Reliable sources say Col. Gaddafi has now left the capital, our correspondent adds. [More>>bbc.co.uk; See related stories,

thestar.com (Reuters) February 21, "Gaddafi under threat as revolt hits Tripoli"
: TRIPOLI - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's four-decade-old rule appeared in increasing jeopardy on Monday when days of anti-government protests reached the capital for the first time and security forces killed dozens of people. Military aircraft fired live ammunition at crowds of anti-government protesters in the capital Tripoli, Al Jazeera television said on Monday quoting witnesses. No independent verification of the report was immediately available. Residents said several cities in the east appeared to be in the hands of the opposition as protests spread from Benghazi, the cradle of a popular uprising that threatens to overthrow one of the Arab world's most entrenched governments. One of Gaddafi's sons said the veteran leader would fight the revolt until "the last man standing." Protesters rallied in Tripoli's streets, tribal and religious leaders spoke out against Gaddafi, and army units defected to the opposition in a revolt that has cost the lives of more than 200 people...

aljazeera.net, February 21, "Libya protests spread and intensify" : Security forces open fire on anti-government demonstrators in Tripoli, as protests escalate across the country. Dozens have been reported dead after more violence in the Libyan capital as angry protests against embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi's 40-year rule escalate across the country. At least 61 people were killed in clashes in Tripoli on Monday, witnesses told Al Jazeera. The protests appeared to be gathering momentum, with demonstrators saying they had taken control of several key towns in the country, including the city of Benghazi. Another huge march under way in Tripoli on Monday afternoon was reportedly under attack by security forces using military planes and live ammunition to fire on protesters, sources told Al Jazeera. Ahmed Elgazir, a human rights researcher at the Libyan News Centre (LNC) also told Al Jazeera that security forces were "massacring" protesters in Tripoli.

Elgazir said the LNC, based in Geneva, Switzerland, received a call for help from a woman "witnessing the massacre in progress who called on a satellite phone." Libyan authorities have cut all landline and wireless communication in the country, making it impossible to verify the information. Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency reported British foreign secretary, William Hague, saying he had seen some information to suggest Gaddafi had fled Libya on Monday. However, government officials in Venezuela have denied these reports, Al Jazeera's Dima Khatib reported from Caracas. The Libyan deputy foreign minister also denied that Gaddafi had fled...

nytimes.com, February 21, "Libya's UN diplomats break with Gaddafi" : Members of Libya's mission to the United Nations publicly repudiated Col. Muammar el-Gaddafi on Monday, calling him a genocidal war criminal responsible for mass shootings of demonstrators protesting against his four decades in power. They called upon him to resign. The repudiation, led by Libya's deputy permanent representative at a news conference at the mission's headquarters in New York, amounted to the most high-profile defection of Libyan diplomats in the anti-Gaddafi uprising that has convulsed Libya over the past week. "We are sure that what is going on now in Libya is crimes against humanity and crimes of war," the deputy permanent representative, Ibrahim Dabbashi, told reporters in the ground-floor lobby of the Libyan mission on Manhattan's East Side, adorned by a large portrait of Colonel Gaddafi in tribal dress atop a white horse...

maltatoday.com, February 21, "Video - Armed Libyan fighter jets escape from Benghazi and land in Malta, pilots surrender to AFM 'we have defected' "
:The planes landed at MIA without authorisation and the pilots have surrendered to the Maltese authorities. The planes have reportedly escaped from Benghazi where the air base has been looted and destroyed by demonstrators. Meanwhile, two civilian helicopters with seven passengers has also landed at MIA. Only one passenger had a passport and is said to be French. The fact that only one passenger had a passport is evidence of the haste of the civilians escape from Libya that is now in chaos. Senior military sources have told MaltaToday that the pilots had initially told air traffic control operators to be allowed emergency passage into Malta's airspace and also permission to land, as they were without fuel.

Once landed, the planes were surrounded by AFM personnel that took the pilots into custody for investigations. It is reported that the pilots declared that they fled from Libya after fearing for their lives when the air base in Benghazi was attacked by hundreds of demonstrators. While the base was destroyed, the two planes took to the air and defected. However, other sources have said that the pilots latest version is that they were ordered to take to the air and bombard the protestors in various parts of Benghazi where the situation is dramatic and civilians have taken over military assets...

2.21.11 Around $40 billion 'missing' from Iraq accounts

BAGHDAD, February 21 - Iraq moves to head off protests as teen is killed. Around $40 billion are "missing" from a post-Gulf War fund that Iraq maintains to protect the money from foreign claims, its parliamentary speaker said on Monday as authorities scrambled to head off further protests on cutting politicians' pay and ramping up support for the needy. "There is missing money, we do not know where it has gone," Osama al-Nujaifi said at a news conference in Baghdad. "The money is around $40 billion in total." "It may have been spent somewhere, but it does not appear in our accounts, so parliament will investigate where this money has gone." [More>>alarabiya.net]

2.21.11 Suicide car bomber kills 12 north of Baghdad

BAGHDAD (AP) February 21 - A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb on Monday at a police station north of Baghdad, killing at least 12 police officers, police and health officials said. The attack in Samarra, 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Baghdad, comes nine days after a suicide bomber targeted Shia pilgrims returning from a religious ceremony at the city's al-Askari mosque. Thirty-six were killed in that attack. Monday's bombing also wounded at least 22 people, according to two police officers and hospital official. The police battalion that came under attack had been dispatched from a southern Shia province two weeks ago to help protect pilgrims during the ceremony, said Niyaz Oglu, a member of the area's provincial council.

Oglu accused al-Qaeda in Iraq of organizing the attack...Also Monday, police and hospital officials in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah said two protesters died, including a teenager, and 46 were wounded as a result of injuries sustained during overnight protests. A Sulaimaniyah police official said that around 2,000 people took part in scattered demonstrations around the city, 160 miles (260 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, late Sunday. Many Kurds are frustrated by the tight grip with which the two ruling parties control the Kurdish autonomous region.
[Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

2.21.11 Drone strike kills five in North Waziristan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) February 21 - A US drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region — the second such attack in 24 hours on the area near the Afghan border — killed five people Monday, security officials said. The strike took place in the mountainous Spalga village, 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal district. "It was a US drone strike which targeted a militant compound, killing five rebels," a senior local security official said, adding it destroyed the compound. Another official confirmed the strike and said US drones fired four missiles. It was not clear exactly how many of the unmanned aircraft were involved but at least five had been in the air since the morning, he said. Late on Sunday a US drone killed at least five people in neighboring South Waziristan. There had been a pause in the missile attacks after Pakistani authorities arrested a US gunman, Raymond Davis, for shooting dead two Pakistanis in Lahore on January 27. [>thenews.com.pk]

2.21.11 Afghan police: At least 30 killed in suicide blast

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) February 21 - A suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to an Afghan government office Monday, killing at least 30 people — many who were waiting in line to obtain government identification cards, police said. The attack occurred around noon in Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan where there has been a sharp slide in security in recent months, said district police chief Abdul Qayum Ebrahimi. At least 40 people were wounded in the blast, he said. "We were in a meeting. It was a very powerful explosion," said Ebrahimi, who works in the district police office next door to the blast site. "People had gathered in the front of the department to get identification cards." He said the explosion occurred in the district center on a day when people gather to shop. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

2.21.11 China squashes attempted Tunisia-style revolt

February 21 - Pro-democracy activists in China have been thwarted in their attempt to start Middle East-style protests demanding more rights. Messages calling for a "Jasmine Revolution" — the name given to the Tunisian uprising which toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali — had been circulated on the internet ahead of protests in 13 cities across the country. But as the time for the protest approached in Beijing, scores of police descended on the designated area in Wanfujing, an upmarket shopping district. Side streets were lined with security forces, police vehicles, Swat police and at least 100 uniformed personnel, while dozens of plain-clothed officers also looked on, conspicuously wearing identical coats. In the end there were very few signs of demonstrations beyond sporadic scuffles between police and several individuals. [More>>news.sky.com]

2.21.11 12 dead as cartels target Acapulco taxis

APAPULCO, Mexico, February 21 - Wave of violence in Mexican resort city comes on eve of major tennis tournament; Both drivers and passengers killed. A spate of attacks on taxis in the Mexican resort city of Acapulco has left 12 taxi drivers or passengers dead, police said Sunday, just hours before the Mexican Open tennis tournament is scheduled to start. Acapulco has been the scene of bloody drug cartel turf wars, and taxi drivers have often been targeted for extortion or recruited by the gangs to act as lookouts or transport drugs. The organizers of the largest tennis tournament in Latin America said in a statement Sunday that the Mexican government has assured them that appropriate security measures have been taken for the event that starts Monday. Police in Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located, said that four suspects had been detained in relation with some of the attacks. The suspects had guns, a grenade and a machete that police say may have been used to decapitate some of the victims. The attacks began Friday, when five taxi drivers were found dead in or near their vehicles. [More>>cbsnews.com; See related story,

foxnews.com, February 21, "Hezbollah working with Cartels"
: As if the threat of deadly drug cartels in Mexico wasn't enough, some of them are joining forces with Middle East terror groups. "Hezbollah are absolute masters at identifying existing smuggling infrastructures," says former DEA Chief of Operations Mike Braun, adding that the group "is developing relations with those responsible for operating those smuggling operations and then forming close relations with them, so that they can move anything they have an interest into virtually anywhere in the world." That comment comes from former DEA Chief of Operations Mike Braun. He goes on to tell me that the Middle East terror group is "rubbing shoulders" with drug cartels around the globe...

2.19.11 Libya toll rises, Bahrain protest resumes

MANAMA, Bahrain (AFP) February 19 - Unrest flared anew in the Arab world overnight as reports emerged of more than 80 killed in a bloody crackdown in Libya and thousands of Bahraini protesters again seizing a key square in the capital. As Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi faced an unprecedented challenge to his rule, protesters returned to Pearl Square in Bahrain's capital Manama despite police attempts to disperse them with tear gas. Clashes also continued in Yemen, with one protester shot dead and five wounded in battles between protesters and government supporters near the Sanaa university campus. As the wave of protests inspired by the ousters of long-serving rulers in Egypt and Tunisia continued to shake regimes across the region, the chief diplomats of Europe and Britain joined US President Barack Obama in urging restraint. In Libya, where authorities had pledged a "sharp and violent" crushing of the opposition, security forces have killed at least 84 people, Human Rights Watch said. [More>>news.com.au; See related stories,

haaretz.com (Reuters) February 19, "Bahrain police retreat, protesters reoccupy Pearl Square"
: Troops in tanks withdraw from the square which they had taken over on Thursday after riot police attacked protesters who had camped out there, killing four people and wounding 23. Anti-government protesters in Bahrain swarmed back into a symbolic square on Saturday, putting riot police to flight in a striking victory for their cause. Crowds had approached Pearl Square in Manama from different directions, creating a standoff with riot police who had moved in earlier to replace troops withdrawn on royal orders. Suddenly police raced to their buses, which drove away mounting curbs in their haste to escape. The protesters, cheering and waving national flags, ran to the center of the traffic circle, reoccupying it even before all the police had left. The crowd waved fleeing policemen through...

news.sky.com, February 19, "Death toll in Libya protest 'hits 120' :
Exiled Libyan opposition groups claim up to 120 people have been killed in Libya, amid reports snipers fired at mourners in the eastern city of Benghazi. The exiled Libyan nationals announced the highest death toll yet, claiming another 1,000 people have also been wounded during three days of protests. They say they are quoting figures from doctors based in Benghazi, however there is no way of independently verifying the numbers due to strict controls within the country.

The latest toll comes after Human Rights Watch (HRW) said 84 people had been killed, a figure which was based on reports from witnesses and hospital sources. Those within the country, say the current demonstrations are the worst unrest faced by Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi. Protests against Colonel Gaddafi's 40-year rule, inspired by uprisings in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, have been met with force. HRW said 35 people died on Friday alone with the biggest protest focused in the restive region around Benghazi, 600 miles east of the capital Tripoli. According to Alex Rossi, Sky News correspondent in Cairo, the situation in Libya was "extremely volatile."...

independent.co.uk, February 19, "Yemen security forces shoot dead protester" : Yemeni riot police shot dead a protester and injured five others when they opened fire on a march of thousands of demonstrators in the capital Sanaa today. Protesters began marching early in the morning from the University of Sanaa to the Ministry of Justice while chanting, "the people want the fall of the regime," until they were met by riot police. Security forces backed by plainclothes elements opened fire on them and threw stones. A medical official said one man was shot in the neck and killed. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. It was the 10th straight day of protests in Yemen inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, which have killed seven people across the country. Demonstrators are calling for the ousting of President Ali Abdullah Saleh — a key US ally in fighting al-Qaeda terrorists — who has ruled the country for 32 years. Meanwhile residents of Yemen's port city Aden, where fierce riots have resulted in at least four deaths, said security forces have disappeared from the streets, threatening to plunge the city into chaos...

france24.com (Reuters) February 19, "Riot police crack down on protesters in Algiers"
: Algerian police in riot gear on Saturday surrounded about 500 protesters trying to stage a march through the capital inspired by uprisings in other parts of the Arab world in defiance of a ban. A Reuters reporter at the scene said a group chanting "Algeria — free and democratic!" tried to reach May 1 Square in the city centre to begin the protest march but were driven two blocks away by police using batons. They were then corralled into the courtyard of a residential block, where police in helmets and protective gear surrounded them — together with several hundred onlookers and some pro-government demonstrators. Unrest in Algeria could have implications for the world economy since it is a major oil and gas exporter, but analysts say an Egypt-style revolt is unlikely because the government can use its energy wealth to placate most grievances...

alarabiya.net, February 19, "Morocco braces for protests as unrest moves westward" : DUBAI - Ex-palace spokesman backs peaceful change in Morocco. A coalition of Moroccan youth groups called "The February 20 Movement" has called for mass peaceful protests in cities across Morocco on Sunday, to demand amendment of the constitution, dissolution of the government and parliament, and recognition of the Amazigh (Berber) language as an official language, among other things. In a recent interview with France 24, Prince Moulay Hicham, a cousin of King Mohammed VI, said Morocco was not immune to popular uprisings currently sweeping the region and expressed his support for the planned peaceful protests on Feb. 20. Inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, the movement has used social media to spread the word about the protests and has recently published several videos of young men and women from different regions and social classes expressing their demands and aspirations. Moroccan historian and former palace spokesman Hassan Aourid has thrown his weight behind the planned peaceful protests, calling for a change to a constitutional democratic monarchy, such as that in the UK, Spain, or in other democratic countries...

msnbc.msn.com (Reuters) February 19, "30 wounded in Kuwait protests on Friday" : KUWAIT -
Thirty people were wounded in Friday's clashes in Kuwait between security forces and stateless Arabs demanding citizenship, security sources said on Saturday. The protest in Jahra, northwest of Kuwait City, was the first in the oil-producing Gulf Arab state since a wave of unrest began sweeping across the Middle East in December. Fifty people were arrested after the demonstration, the security sources said. A similar protest in the village of Salibiya also drew 80 protesters on Friday, they said. The sources said seven of the wounded in Jahra were from the security forces, who dispersed the demonstration using smoke bombs and water cannon after protesters refused warnings to leave. The Interior Ministry said protesters threw stones...

alarabiya.net, February 19, "Iran opposition calls for new protest Sunday" : TEHRAN - Opposition chief cut off completely: website. Iran's opposition has invited Iranians to attend a protest rally in Tehran and other cities Sunday to mark a week since the deaths of two people in earlier demonstrations. The opposition website kaleme.com says the rallies Sunday will be a "fight against religious dictatorship" in Iran. The announcement comes just a day after reports emerged that Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main Iran opposition leader whose rebellion against the government has rocked the Islamic republic, is now completely cut off from the outside world. Mousavi's website Kaleme.com reported that Mousavi's previous guards have been replaced by new ones and that a van containing masked men was parked at the entrance to the street in Tehran where his house is located...

2.19.11 18 dead in Afghan bank attack: official

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (AFP) Februayr 19 - Eighteen people were killed and over 70 wounded in an attack on a bank in Jalalabad, east Afghanistan Saturday, provincial governor Gul Agha Shirzay said, doubling the previous death toll. "Unfortunately 18 of our countrymen were martyred and more than 70 injured," said Shirzay, governor of Nangarhar province. He added that seven suicide attackers armed with guns and grenades carried out the attack. [>khaleejtimes.com; See more details, aljazeera.net, February 19, "Taliban attack on Afghan bank."]

2.19.11 Four Russian tourists killed on way to Caucasus ski resort

February 19 - The group were heading towards the Kabardino-Balkaria region of Russia. "Two people in masks armed with automatic guns in a foreign-made car forced the minibus onto the hard shoulder, asked about passengers, then opened fire on the vehicle and fled from the scene," the Investigative Committee said in a statement. All six people in the vehicle were from the Moscow region. Three died on the spot and two were taken to hospital, it said. A message on Islamist website Islamdin.com, hosted by the militant group Caucasus Emirate, said the tourists were killed by "mujahideens" because they "came into the zone of war." The group was going skiing to the Elbrus mountain area when they were ambushed near the village Zayukovo, according to the NTV channel, adding that a fourth person died in hospital. The Kremlin fought two wars against separatist rebels in Chechnya in the 1990s but the insurgency has now become more Islamist in tone and has spread to neighbouring regions. The targeting of tourists will be especially worrying for Russia's authorities, who have pronounced the North Caucasus a future mountain ski haven, unveiling plans of a $15 billion dollar program to create five resorts. One of the proposed resorts, Elbrus-Bezengi, is in the Kabardino-Balkaria region and would host up to 29,000 tourists per day under the plan. [>telegraph.co.uk]

2.19.11 Pirates hijack 4 Americans; US mulls responses

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) February 18 - Somali pirates hijacked the yacht of an American couple who traveled the world handing out Bibles, and the US government said Saturday it was assessing possible responses. Pirates hijacked the yacht Quest on Friday, two days after a Somali pirate was sentenced to 33 years in prison by a New York court for the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama. That case ended in a spectacular rescue when Navy sharpshooters killed two pirates holding the ship's captain, Richard Phillips. The Quest is the home of Jean and Scott Adam, a couple from California who has been sailing around the world since December 2004, according to a website the Adams keep. Two other Americans were also believed to be on board. A self-proclaimed pirate said he expected the yacht to reach Somalia on Sunday. A US military spokesman at Central Command in Florida said: "We're aware of the situation and we continue to monitor it." {More>>foxnews.com]

2.18.11 Security forces in Bahrain open fire on mourners

MANAMA, Bahrain, February 18 - Government forces opened fire on hundreds of mourners marching toward Pearl Square Friday, sending people running away in panic amid the boom of concussion grenades. But even as the people fled, at least one helicopter sprayed fire on them and a witness reported seeing mourners crumpling to the ground. It was not immediately clear what type of ammunition the forces were firing, but some witnesses reported live fire from automatic weapons and the crowd was screaming "live fire, live fire." At a nearby hospital, witnesses reported seeing people with very serious injuries and gaping wounds, at least some of them caused by rubber bullets that appeared to have been fired at close range.

Even as ambulances rushed to rescue people, forces fired on medics loading the wounded into their vehicles. That only added to the chaos, with regular people pitching in to evacuate the wounded by car and doctors at a nearby hospital saying the delays in casualties reaching them made it impossible to get a reasonable count of the dead and wounded. A Western official said at least one person had died in the mayhem surrounding the square, and reports said at least 50 were wounded. The official quoted a witness as saying that the shooters were from the military, not the police, indicating a hardening of the government's stance against those trying to stage a popular revolt.

2.18.11 8 injured during anti-government clashes in Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) February 18 - Amman protest draws 2,000 people, including hard-line leftists, Muslim conservatives and students calling for reduced power for the king. Clashes broke out Friday in Jordan's capital between government supporters and opponents at a protest calling for more freedom and lower food prices, injuring eight. It was the seventh straight Friday that Jordanians, inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, took to the streets to demand more say in decision-making. The Amman protest drew about 2,000 people, including hard-line leftists, Muslim conservatives and students calling for reduced power for the king and the chance to elect members of the Cabinet. Students from the growing "Jaayin" or "I'm Coming" movement chanted: "We want constitutional reforms. We want a complete change to policies." Jordan's king enjoys absolute powers, ruling by decree and he can appoint and dismiss Cabinets and parliament whenever he wants. "We want a complete overhaul of the political system, including the constitution, the parliament dissolved and new free and fair elections held," said movement member and teacher Amani Ghoul, insisting the protests will continue until their demands are met. [More>>jpost.com]

2.18.11 Two German soldiers shot dead at Afghan base

BERLIN (AFP) February 18 - Two German soldiers were killed and seven wounded Friday when a man in Afghan army uniform opened fire at an outpost in northern Afghanistan, Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said. The shooting at a base in the Puli Khumri district of Baghlan province occurred as troops carried out maintenance on a vehicle, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said. A man in Afghan uniform shot at the troops and they fired back, critically injuring the gunman. Zu Guttenberg said in Berlin that the two soldiers killed were German, adding that seven others had been injured, three of them seriously. The soldiers were aged 22 and 30 and their families have been informed, the German army said on its website. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, February 18, "Suicide attack kills nine in Afghanistan"
: KHOST, Afghanistan - Nine people including a policeman were killed and 40 others were wounded Friday in a suicide car bomb attack at a police headquarters in Afghanistan, officials said. The incident in the eastern city of Khost is the latest to target Afghan police who, along with the country's army, are due to take control of security from international troops by 2014. The head of the local public health office Amir Badsha Mangal said that nine people were dead and 40 people had been injured, four of whom were in a serious condition. Local police chief Abdul Hakim Eshaqzai said that women and children were among the dead. Hospitals in the city have been "overwhelmed" by the influx of wounded people, he added, warning: "The casualty toll will possibly increase." Eshaqzai blamed the attack on "the enemies of the people and government of Afghanistan," a phrase often used by officials to refer to the Taliban. The bomb was carried in a Toyota van, he added...

2.18.11 US Treasury targets Afghan money launderers

KABUL, Afghanistan, February 18 - The US Treasury Department has accused a controversial money exchange outfit in Afghanistan of laundering funds for heroin traffickers and placed it on a blacklist that prohibits Americans from dealing with the business and freezes any of its US assets. Treasury also blacklisted 15 people associated with New Ansari Exchange who helped move billions of dollars out of Afghanistan to "conceal illicit narcotics proceeds," the department said in a statement. The designation represents a US attempt to crack down on a circle of politically connected Afghan businessmen who have long been accused of criminal behavior and who have come to represent the culture of corruption that has hobbled the Afghan government. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

2.18.11 Obama condemns viiolence against protesters in Bahrain, Libya, Yemen

February 18 - US president urges governments of these countries to show restraint in responding to peaceful anti-government protesters as continuous unrest sweeps Mideast. US President Barack Obama urged the governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen on Friday to show restraint in dealing with protests that have erupted in their countries. "I am deeply concerned by reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United States condemns the use of violence against peaceful protesters in those countries, and wherever else it may occur," the president said in a statement read to reporters by White House press secretary Jay Carney. "The United States urges the governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests and to respect the rights of their people," Obama said. In wake of the unrest in Egypt, which led to the toppling of former President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule over the country, anti-government protests have spread throughout the Middle East. [More>>haaretz.com; See related stories,

bbc.co.uk, February 18, "Libya: Benghazi clashes deadly - witnesses"
: There have been renewed clashes between protesters and police in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, witnesses say. They say three people were killed in the city's el-Kish area and at least a dozen others elsewhere. The claims cannot be independently verified. Benghazi has been the scene of protests in recent days, with reports that at least 15 people were killed in clashes with security forces on Thursday. Reports are also coming about clashes in the neighboring city of Al-Bayda. Two exile groups told Reuters news agency that al-Bayda was now "out of the control of the Gaddafi regime." It has been impossible for the BBC to verify this information on the ground...

cbsnews.com, February 18, "From Iran to Senegal, protests dominate"
:  As thousands of Egyptians packed Cairo's Tahrir Square to celebrate the one-week anniversary of former President Hosni Mubarak's ouster, protests they helped inspire continued to rage throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Violent clashes between anti-government demonstrators and security forces broke out in Bahrain, Yemen and Jordan Friday; In Senegal, a man in a military uniform set himself on fire near the presidential palace; In the tiny East African nation of Djibouti, thousands gathered calling for their president to step down; Iraqis protested for better public services and jobs; And in Iran and Libya, pro-government rallies were held in contrast to recent opposition demonstrations...

2.18.11 Fresh protests hit Iraqi cities

February 18 - Violent protests have taken place at various locations in Iraq, with anti-government protesters rallying against corruption, poor basic services and high unemployment. In Basra, the country's second largest city, about 1,000 people rallied on Friday, demanding better service delivery from the government, jobs and improved pensions. They called for the provincial governor to resign, and blocked a bridge for an hour. Protesters shouted slogans saying that while Friday's protests would be peaceful, ones held in the future may not be. "We're living in miserable conditions, no electricity, dirty, muddy streets. We have to make changes. We should not be silent," said Qais Jabbar, one of the protesters. "I have filed my papers with the provincial council but have gotten no job until now," said Hussein Abdel, an unemployed 25-year-old.

"There is corruption in Basra — they have to start taking care of this city and must stop making fake promises." Protests were also held in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, which generally enjoys more economic prosperity than other parts of the country. A Kurdish regional opposition party's offices were attacked by looters, officials said on Friday. Seven offices of the Goran party in the northern Kurdish provinces of Arbil and Dohuk were attacked, in what officials say was a response to an attack on the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) offices in Sulaimaniyah a day earlier. Two people were killed in that protest, after security forces opened fire on demonstrators.

2.18.11 Churches open doors to Muslim worship

February 18 - They see it as their Christian duty. But others disagree, saying it extends the hand of fellowship where it was never intended to go. Two Protestant churches are taking some heat from critics for opening their church buildings to Muslims needing places to worship because their own facilities were either too small, or under construction. Heartsong Church in Cordova, Tenn., let members of the Memphis Islamic Center hold Ramadan prayers there last September. And Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Va., allows the Islamic Circle of North America to hold regular Friday prayers in their building while their new mosque is being built. Diane Bechtol of Aldersgate says this is something Christians are called to do: Be neighborly and develop relationships even those who don't share your beliefs.

"I think it's a tenet of our Christian faith, and that is that we extend hospitality to the stranger," said Bechtol. "We are a congregation that wants to be helpful to people and if we are asked to help a neighbor in need, that's what we do." But Dr. Alex McFarland, a Christian theologian and radio talk show host, charged these churches "have crossed the line from respect and tolerance, to ... affirmation and endorsement. We as the church are called to show love, we're called to help. But to let a building simultaneously be used for the activities of a mosque and also the activities of Jesus Christ, it's just incompatible. And I think it's one more example of political correctness and hyper-tolerance gone awry."

Mohamed Elsanousi adamantly disagrees, saying it's good for the country to know churches like these are extending a hand to Muslims. Elsanousi is National Community Outreach Director of the Islamic Society of North America. He says "allowing people the freedom of worship is respectful and strengthens the relationship." Elsanousi says there are many churches and even synagogues in America where Muslims share space with Christians. "We feel good about it," he says. That trend may continue as the Muslim population across the US continues to grow. Mosque construction is at an all-time high. As of September, there were 1,897 mosques in the United States, a 57 percent increase since 2000...McFarland says the groups run the risk of creating something called “Chrislam” - a combination of the two faiths that essentially ignores the big white elephant in the room: the exclusive claims of both Christianity and Islam.
[Full story>>foxnews.com]

Editorial note: "Many contradictions in the Koran and application of Koran." Most Christians and Muslims do not know that the Koran has many verses that explain its purpose as a confirmation of the Jewish scriptures, Five Books of Moses, Torah, Prophets and Gospel (sic. the Bible). A contractual document that confirms another cannot take exception to that which it claims to confirm. The Bible and the Koran are contractual documents that profer the advocacy of the one God of Abraham. In the Koran he is called Allah; in the Bible he is given as many as 70 names, according to the rabbis, but mainly El (God), Elohim (Gods), YHVH (Jehovah, meaning "I am that I am"), LORD (a discrete spelling for YHVH), G-D (a discreet spelling of EL) and Lord (God). These names also carry epithets, such as savior, redeemer, etc., and in counting all of the expressions referring to God, the rabbis concluded there are at least 70. So "Allah" is but just another name of the God of the Bible. This in fact has to be the correct view of Allah, since the Koran says it was written to confirm the scriptures noted above. It also claims that Jesus is the Messiah (Gr. Christ). Most Islamic scholars tend to say that Jesus is only one of many prophets. But a few scholars have admitted that the Koran does in fact acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, but they argue, "Messiah doesn't mean anything."

This is the verse in the Koran that acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah:

Koran IMRANS 3:45: The angels said to Mary: 'Allah bids you rejoice in a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary..."

We addressed these issues in "The Allah Controversy," building on a landmark, ongoing case in Malaysia where the Malaysian government has forbidden the Catholic church and other faiths to use the word "Allah" in their documents, including the Bibles Catholics produce for Malaysian Christians.

Assuming that the Koran confirms the Gospel of Jesus, one must then reconcile the advocacy of violence in the Koran against other faiths, including Christians, since Jesus advocated non-violence, forgiveness, turning the other cheek, etc. One might hold those passages in the Koran that advocate violence against unbelievers as suspect, not of God. Further confirmation of this is revealed in the Last Days epithets associated with the redemption of Israel back to the Holy Land, with the appearance of the Messiah of the Last Days. A characteristic of the Messiah is Peace to the world, for when Jerusalem is at peace so too will the world be at peace; as the Psalm says, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."

These are sections of The Allah Controversy you might wish to read:

Verses and teachings of the Koran that advocate violence.

Verses and teachings of the Koran that advocate confirmation of the Old Testament scriptures and Gospel.

Some names of the Messiah, his characteristics and times

Relating to this discussion, one may wish to read Maravot News 2.17.09 article 2.15.11 Remembering the Prophet of mercy.

Mel Copeland

2.18.11 Iran court postpones 'execution trial' of Evangelical Christians

TEHRAN, February 18 (via twitter.com@#IranElection) - An Iranian court has told arrested evangelical Christians who may face execution on charges of apostasy that they "should be punished", but that their trial "has been postpone for April," a senior church official said Thursday, February 17. "The judge claimed that he had no time to examine the cases, but spoke about the superiority of Islam," explained Firouz Khanjani, a council member of the Church of Iran movement to Worthy News."He said that Christians are targeting ignorant people and they should be punished for that." Advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) said it has learned that the Christians, identified as Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj and Nazly Beliad, were released on bail, but there was no immediate independent confirmation.

Christians have linked the months-long detentions of the believers to their activities within underground house churches linked to the Church of Iran movement. But prosecutors told the first chamber of the Revolutionary Tribunal of the southwestern city of Shiraz, earlier this month that the believers were held on charges such as "actions against the [state] system," "political meetings" and "contact with opposition groups," according to trial observers. On Sunday, February 13, they were also to answer in the "120th chamber of a normal tribunal," the charges of 'apostasy,' or abandoning Islam, which carries the death penalty in the strict Islamic nation, as well as 'crimes against the Islamic order,' Khanjani added...News of the detentions come amid reports of protests against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his regime, inspired by uprisings that toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. Ahmadinejad has denied wrongdoing and his government has defended harsh sentences, including executions of political opponents and Christians as part of defending the Islamic state.

[Full story>>worthynews.com; See related stories & editorial note,

Maravot News 2.17.11 article
2.11.11 US slams Iranian 'hypocrisy' for arrests, blocking media.


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